Fairway Stress Conditioning: Primo Edition

I’ve got some definite ideas as it comes to pre-stress and early-stress conditioning of fairways.

The first of these ideas is to use a growth regulator. If you’ve never done this or fiddled with doing it, it can be some of the best money spent for a dramatic result.

Primo Maxx is my personal favorite first step. I realize that there are as many ways to use this material as there are breeds of monkeys, so for you creative monkey breeders out there, hang with me. You might see an organ ground by something that you’ve never seen before.

Timing is critical with Primo. To be good with it, you have to understand the Rule of Twenty-One which should keep you out of the two biggest Primo blunders. The first part of this rule is that the material must be left on the leaf blade for at least 21 min. That’s simple. Don’t spray and water in right away. $ down the drains. The second part is understanding that after 21 days, you are essentially “back to zero” as far as growth regulation. Part 2(a) of the rule is that the period past 21 days is where there’s a bit of a pendulum swing… an increase in growth. This can be good or bad, depending on how you use your timing. When to start? That’s easy. When you can. Now.

So you’ve consulted the schedule and your equipment. You’ve selected the right nozzles (I like the TeeJet Air Induction units) and the sprayer is calibrated. For most cool season situations and a lot of warm season setups as well, we start with 17 oz. per acre (.39 oz. per 1000) and repeat this between 17 and 21 days later. Second app is usually a little stronger at 21 oz. per acre (.48 oz. per 1000). That’s rule of thumb, but a pretty good starting place. Oh, and as little water as possible per 1000 is also a good idea.

To be good with it, you have to understand the Rule of Twenty-One which should keep you out of the two biggest Primo blunders…

In a perfect world, you’d make your apps every 21 days to stay in regulation. If you’d like to cycle a bit longer int0 28-31 days, just remember that you are falling into that recovering growth period. Having this happen when you are trying to slick up fairways for the Fall High Handicap Classic might not be the best time to have a big increase in clippings. However, if you are good with the calendar and your 21-31 post Primo window has an aerification event or comes at the end of your nitrogen release curve, you’ve earned the Merit Badge.

There’s been a lot of talk about what goes in the tank with Primo apps. First consideration is to consult my Rule of 21. If it can’t be left on the leaf blade for at least 21 min, it doesn’t have any biz in the tank. From there, there aren’t many rules. A lot of people like to have some N and some Iron in the tank, but economics of many things have changed what’s available to spend. I like to keep it simple. Usually .1 lbs of N per 1000, 2-3 oz. of Kelp Extract or a product like Earthwork’s Sea3 and maybe a little bit of Iron from a Urea Bond product or Ferrous Sulfate. Simple.

Alright so…lets do the math. In my part of the world the agency price on Primo Maxx in a 10 gal link pack is $2758.73 ($2.155 per oz.) Let’s do the fairways at The Happy Monkey Golf and Unicycle Club which are 37 Acres.

Our first app at 17 oz per acre goes down for a total cost of  $36.64 per acre which means the 37 wonderful acres at HMGUC get treated for $1355.50. The second app at 21 oz spends the money that the Head Sandwich Maker wants for new Banana Split Dishes at the rate of $1674.45.

If we look at the calendar, we have room for the first two apps and two more before the Snow Monkeys fly south, so total cost of this program is about $6378.80. For The Monkey Club, this is a lot of bananas. Mowing fuel and labor. This is pretty tangible. If we figure two units hitting fairways even one day less per week at 7 gallons of fuel burn per hour in a 4 hour period (28 gallons less per week @$4.10 per gallon) that’s a minimum savings JUST IN FUEL of $115 and in a 14 week program that’s $1607 lopped off the top of the chemical cost. And most supers won’t actually “save” the labor $, they will use it wisely somewhere else to keep up with the summer demands.

Now I understand that we can do the numbers all day long. Capital equipment costs, labor costs, Marking foam, etc. making us go blind using spreadsheets. But for me, the idea of using a growth regulator comes into the agronomy of having a better plant, a better surface, using a few less inputs, perhaps not needing a “rescue” application and doing less to fiddle with it. When seen through those specs, it kind of pays for itself. Perhaps even a couple times over.

So there’s this Turfhead’s look at using Primo on fairways to rock the pre- and early-stress conditioning that most of you should be thinking about at this very instant!

4 Responses to “Fairway Stress Conditioning: Primo Edition”

  • Chuck:

    Have you researched the 200 GDD model for Primo?

  • Dave Wilber:

    Short Answer: Yes.

    Longer answer: Most of the work that makes any sense has been done with this model is exclusive to Bentgrass putting greens.

    An excellent example is here

    Field work with fairway applications has led me to the method above but certainly working out the GDD thing for an individual situation would be really cool for planning purposes or when you don’t have anything else to do but watch it snow!

  • I have been a big Primo Maxx user for many years on fairways and greens and much of what you said in this article is near and dear to my program (probably because you taught most of this to me over my “early” years). I have a couple questions:

    1. How long does the fertlizer and iron need to be on the leaf for the plant to take it in? I read an article last year (I can’t remember who wrote it but it was a professor) that said foliar applied fertilizer needs to be on the leaf for at least 2 hours before it is taken into the plant. I was told by a Syngenta rep that at least 90% of Primo Maxx will be in the plant within an hour but I will go with your 21 minute rule – the extra 39 minutes doesn’t hurt anything. I almost always spray wetting agent along with this application (Aquaduct) so after 2 hours I begin watering in the spray. Anything concern you with my timing and maybe more importantly, can I start watering earlier and not lose effect of the fertilizer/iron.

    2. We have been on a very agressive Trimmit program over the last 5 years on green, fairways, and rough. It has worked extremely well with small amounts of “break-through”. Without outlining the whole program the meat and potatoes of it is two applications of Trimmit (10 oz/A) in early November and December wall-to-wall and the third/last application when the grass starts growing again (usually in March). There is more to it with pre-emergent 8 weeks before overseed and higher rates of Primo just after first mowing. Most people don’t know this but Las Vegas is very cold in the winter and I usually don’t mow rough from December though mid March. I usued to switch to Primo Maxx in April and continue that program at .25 oz/M through the rest of the summer. This worked well but a couple years ago I switched to Trimmit for the rest of the summer since it could continue to control any poa plus the Trimmit works as a growth regulator. I soon found out that the Trimmit didn’t do that well at keeping our fairways nice and “tight”. I then started mixing the two together and this really worked well but I pulled back on the Primo Maxx rate (synergism)at a rate of .125 oz/M along with 10 oz/A of Trimmit. I have no problem going at a higher rate of Primo Maxx (as far as safety on ryegrass in the middle of the desert) but the cost does concern me. I do go a little more frequent/higher rates around member tournament time in April. Sorry for all the background but here is my question, do you think there is synergism between the Primo and Trimmit in my situation or am I just waisting the Primo? I swear my fairways are much tighter than with Trimmit alone but maybe my glasses are a little too rosy.

  • Dave Wilber:

    The Trimmo Effect is something that isn’t supposed to work on paper and often does.

    The first hour seems to be the deal on sprays. But I routinely see folks watering it in right away. Mistake.

Fall Aerification and Recovery Program